Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane at the Western Cape High Court, fighting her suspension by president Cyril Ramaphosa.
By Sihle Mavuso
In yet another dramatic political week for South Africa, suspended Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, and the parliamentary hearing into her fitness to hold office hogged the headlines.
It looks likely that the Mkhwebane matter will be with us for the rest of the year.
What re-ignited the public interest in the matter was the unexpected ruling of the Western Cape High Court that the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend Mkhwebane in June this year was invalid.
However, what complicated the matter and gave Mkhwebane a hollow victory was the mere fact the court said for the ruling to be valid, the Constitutional Court has to make that call.
That has left room for various interpretations of the ruling by the two parties which have a stake in the matter.
What’s next for Mkhwebane after this ruling?
Emboldened by this rare court victory, Mkhwebane is trying to go back to her desk, but her move was thwarted when the institution of the Public Protector blocked her while acting on the instruction of Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka. On the other side of this, we are going to see Ramaphosa and the Presidency giving different interpretations as this has also to do with shifting public perceptions and opinions.
There is also a likelihood that this matter will go back to court again where there would be a need to clarify what should happen to Mkhwebane from now and the time the Constitutional Court makes a final ruling on this matter.
The ANC and the bid to claim back major cities
In the past week the governing ANC intensified its efforts to reclaim all the major metros it lost to the DA and its coalition partners after the local government elections in November last year.
The effort to do so has been bolstered by the willingness of the EFF to work with them after months of secret talks. In that regard, the first major assault by the ANC against the DA coalition was seen when the speaker of the City of Johannesburg, Vasco Da Gama, was ousted. That sent a warning shot to the current Mayor, Dr Mpho Phalatse, that her job is not safe at all.
What further complicates the future of Phalatse is that some minority parties are not happy with the way her party, the DA is servicing black-dominated townships. Some like Aljamah have claimed that these areas are neglected in favour of affluent areas where the core constituency of the DA is mainly located.
In the coming days we expect the ANC to intensify its assault on the coalition. The assault will spread to cities like Tshwane and Ekurhuleni where the DA-led coalition is still ruling the roost.
Ongoing turmoil in the Zulu royal family
The Zulu royal family has been in turmoil since March last year when King Goodwill Zwelithini passed away, creating a vacancy.
Things got messy when Prince Simakade showed his hand to take on the designated heir to the throne, King Misuzulu KaZwelithini. Since then, the royal house has been fractured mainly into two factions supporting the two.
Late last week things got messy when it emerged that members of the royal family backing Prince Simakade wrote to the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Nomusa Dube-Ncube asking her to halt the staging of the annual Zulu reed dance at eNyokeni palace by King Misuzulu since the palace belongs to the Prince.
In the letter, there was even a mention of bloodshed if the King goes ahead with hosting the ceremony there.
In response to that, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the monarch’s traditional prime minister told the Prince and his backers that palaces are built by the government. As such, the custodian of them is King Misuzulu.
The exchange has raised concerns that there may be legal battles to try stop each other from either using the palace or preventing the other side from stoping the staging of the ceremony there.
Possibly, King Misuzulu and those around will once again use the ceremony to show that they have an upper hand in the battle for throne like they did last month during the staging of the ritual of entering the kraal.
They would come out in numbers, overrun the palace and stage the ceremony by force, thus showing Prince Simakade that he enjoys little or no support both in the royal court and the Zulu nation.
The week ahead and political expectations
A hectic political week lies ahead as the ANC is expected to officially open the process to nominate candidates for the December elective conference by its branches.
This would give a clear picture of who is going to take on party President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is aiming for a second term as the head of the governing party.
Already, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has indicated that she is ready to once again take on Ramaphosa. That will set another showdown similar to the bruising battle of 2017 at Nasrec where Ramaphosa emerged victorious.
The burial of Queen Elizabeth II
Although she was the Queen of England and some states of the realm, her death left South Africa, a member of the Commonwealth, divided.
The EFF was even frank and said she should not be mourned at all. As the day of her burial draws closer and President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to attend her funeral, this will likely draw a rebuke from those still bitter about Britain’s colonial past, and the matter will be in the South African headlines.
Mavuso is a journalist at IOL and writes on current affairs in South Africa and parts of the SADC region.